Your Personal Guide to Exploring Colorado.
CPO & Lead Designer
Colorado is a beautiful state. We are blessed with vast forests, parks, 14ers, lakes, rivers, trails, and wildlife refuges, huts right in our backyard.
These wild open spaces are incredible places to hike, camp, fish, wildlife-watch you name it; we can do it all.
However, it can be hard to find a destination that best suits your personal needs. We spent hours trying to cultivate the right place for your favorite activities, often using Google as a resource. Then, we were able to determine the right place and the right time for people to explore their local area and pair them with these experiences.
It was this inspiration that helped create LocaWild, Your Personal Guide to Exploring Colorado.
From our user research, we found that a mobile app was the solution. LocaWild allowed people to narrow the search for their next outdoor adventure by leveraging favorite human-powered, nature-driven activities. By paying attention to the detailed destination, who has been there, discovering the destination from other perspectives and inspiring people to get outside. Everything you need to start your next adventure is in one place.
After logging into LocaWild with Instagram, the user instantly sees a list of destinations that are best for each activity. Based on our research, our target user group became millennials. Millennials are already engaged with outdoor adventure pictures and videos on Instagram. So we chose to leverage their massive database of user-generated content.
There are three fundamental ways to start the exploring process: based on favorite activities, top or trending or not-so-popular destinations and based on what others are doing.
Filter the destinations based on their favorite activities. The filters are the first screen the user sees when they log into the app. There are nine different types of events that we supported initially.
Based on the content acquired from the user, we suggested three destination lists: Most Popular Nearby, Trending Now Nearby & Not-so-Popular Nearby.
The destination lists were based on the number of content and top activities for each destination. The approximate distance between the user’s current locations to the target helped indicate the driving distance.
Clicking on the destination instantly saw beautiful pictures or videos taken by other LocaWild Seekers. They were then engaged with what activities interested them. They could quickly switch to the “Details” tab to view the history of the area, phone number, address, driving directions, and hashtags to be used to share their contents.
We used action cards with the purpose of informing the user to take a specific action. This was used as a way to organize and displayed information throughout the browsing experience. Action cards remind the user to invite their friends for a trip, preview the driving directions and how to share their content on Instagram.
Discover Top LocaWild Seekers, search people and follow your favorite Seekers.
My Trips (Journal)
As I share my content on Instagram by using the indicated hash tags, the app will automatically log a trip for me under “My Trip” tabs. Here I can view my previous experience and relive the memories.
Your saved destination can also be accessed here.
Future Product Roadmap
There are a few business models that we are now considering:
With a small monthly cost, we can provide more meaningful data about the destination such as current condition, weather, seasonal data about each activity, and more advance journaling tool.
Access to private land is a tremendous opportunity that we would like to explore for LocaWild. The user will be provided a simple way to buy a private land permit and intuitive map view of restricted/private land.
Tour Operator or Guides
LocaWild users can view and book a unique outdoor experience with tour operators or guides at a specific destination that they want to explore.
LocaWild could act as a marketplace for the user to discover, endorse and purchase new products, brands, and equipment for the outdoor that are supported by other LocaWild Seekers. They can also suggest the best gear for a specific activity at a particular destination.
Starting fresh can be very challenging. There are many different directions and opportunities to be considered, but it is also critical to stay focused. Focusing on finding the simplest solution that provides unique value to the target user group. Don’t wait too long to deliver the product that can quickly become irrelevant in the market.
What should I have done differently?
What we learned
After launching the app on the Apple App Store, we have been struggling on getting new sign-ups even though we actively promote the app on Instagram. Then, we quickly learn few things:
- User's iPhone is already full of many apps that they rarely use. The last thing they want is to download another app that they won't use frequently.
- Login with Instagram is a significant barrier for the user. One with no Instagram account can't use the app.
- Data is inconsistent and slow to load due to inadequate initial architecture design.
What we would do
If we have enough funding and resources, we would invest heavily on:
- Design a scalable backend solution that can handle a heavy load of data from Instagram.
- Remove the barrier of logging with Instagram to use the product.
- Instead of building a mobile app, we will create a massive database of outdoor locations that contains all unique data set for each place such as real-time weather information, niche data set, streamflow, current condition, closure information, etc.. Then, building a simple web user interface that allows users to search and discover locations that they want to explore. Think of "Googe for outdoor adventure."
- Providing alternative ways for users to find places such as Messenger bot, a weekly email list of top locations nearby, web browser plugins, etc...
“i” icon vs Tabs
“i” icon is an iOS design pattern that Apple is using on their platform. It is used to display more information about a specific view. Initially, I used this design pattern to allow the user to view the detail information about the destination. The user can either tap on the “i” icon to view the details or just slide down from the top to reveal the section.
However, during our usability testing, 90% of our testers didn’t know what was the “i” icon for and didn’t tap on it. Even though all testers understood it after I told them what it is for, I felt we needed to change the design to provide more visible options to view the destination detail. Therefore, I separated the Feed and Details into two different views. 100% of our testers were then able to switch between Feed and Details view.
During our usability testing, the “search” icon is not easily accessible. Activities and Destination are somewhat redundant. Also, to open the filter list, the user had to tap on the Filter, which was not very intuitive. The top navigation needed to be re-thought.
With the new top navigation, the search bar took up the entire space at the top. We needed to provide a clear indication of what people would see in the content area. Tapping on the search or slide down from the top revealed the filter list. This top navigation design also provided room for expanding our destination list in the future such as “Private Land,” “Local Businesses,” “Brands,” etc.…
I believe in design principles. A good set of design principles can help an entire organization to align with what matters the most to business goals.
The pyramid of design indicates the hierarchy of needs from basic needs to psychological needs and self-fulfillment needs. It helps communicate the importance of each principle and here is the diagram that I created for this project.
Inspiring Physical Experience
The entire goal of the product is to encourage the users to get outside. The app usage had to be minimal and promote a reduction in overall screen time.
Collaborative & Universal
The product must be universal and inspire collaboration. Everyone, regardless of disciplines and background, must able to use the product without difficulties. Physical experience will be more memorable if sharing with the love ones. Therefore, the collaborative piece is an important design principle.
Trips = Growth & Interchangeable
Trips = Growth is a self-explanatory principle. We encouraged everyone to get outside more often. Our growth strategy allowed us to think of expansion in a modular way. We wanted the ability to create growth interchangeably and update our platform seamlessly.
It is not easy for everyone to just directly experience the great outdoors. The outdoors is extraordinarily tricky to incorporate if people’s lives take place in an urban environment. Many fail to challenge themselves to get out of their comfort zone. Hence, if we can successfully inspire large groups of people to get outside, we could also help them to enhance their self-discipline, which would help us grow.
There are five steps that a person must do when searching & experiencing outdoor activities
- Find inspiration (figure out what you want to do)
- Search locations (figure out where you want to go)
- Planning for an outdoor trip (collaborating, scheduling, etc...)
- Recording the outdoor trips (pictures, videos, etc...)
- Share the experience and inspire others to do the same.
We want to learn which step is the most important and which step is the most challenging. The result is fascinating. Based on 11 user research sessions, we learned that:
82% find Search Locations is the most critical step.
However, 64% of our participants found "Planning for the outdoor trip" is the most challenging step; while 36% of them think "Search locations" is more challenging.
From the result, we decided to focus on solving the problem of searching for the location whenever a person wants to go for an outdoor adventure.